KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 (Xinhua) -- Malaysian authorities were forced to close more schools in Johor state on Wednesday due to serious chemical pollution.
In a statement, Education Minister Maszlee Malik announced 34 schools will be closed as the situation in the Pasir Gudang district in the southern Johor state had worsened.
"Unfortunately I was informed today that the situation has become critical. To avoid any unwanted incident on the students and others at the schools, I have ordered 34 schools in the Pasir Gudang district to close immediately," said the minister.
"The teachers also do not have to report for duty as the situation remains dangerous," he said, adding that he had seen some 50 students being sent to school during his visit to the area.
Meanwhile, the Sultan of Johor Ibrahim Ismail urged the authorities to conduct a full-scale investigation to identify the culprits immediately.
Pasir Gudang is an industrial area located near the state capital of Johor Baru that borders Singapore. There are several major factories in the area involved in petrochemicals, palm oil and other heavy industries.
The authorities' move on Wednesday follows the closure of 13 schools on Tuesday after 260 students and members of the public were given treatment for exposure to chemicals, with symptoms including shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, according to state news agency Bernama.
In a similar incident last week, authorities were forced to evacuate over 1,000 people, mostly school students, after chemicals were illegally dumped in a river near two schools.